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Obituary for Vincent "Buck" Curtis
Vincent “Buck” Curtis, 93, passed away at his home in Gold Beach, Ore. on July 25, 2016. Buck was born November 18, 1922 in Alpha, Washington to Thomas and Virdia (Breashears) Curtis. He grew up in Washington. Following high school, Buck entered the US Navy. He served in the Navy Armed Guard during World War II, from November 1942 to January 1946. Known as the “other Navy” during World War II, Navy Armed Guard crews manned the guns of merchant ships struggling to deliver men and material to Europe and the Pacific. The story of the Navy Armed Guard, particularly its exploits in the Battle of the Atlantic, is a little-known legend of heroism, sacrifice, cruelty by an unforgiving sea and violent torpedoes and gunfire. On February 3, 1944 during World War II an American-built liberty ship called the SS Chung Cheng was sailing unescorted in the Arabian sea. Onboard were 11 American officers, 4 Chinese officers, 29 Chinese crewmen, and 27 American armed guards, including Buck. At approximately 2345 hours, the ship was torpedoed by a German U boat, U188. According to one of the crew members, the ship sank so fast that men abandoning ship “just had to step into the water rather than jump.” The ship went down in less than five minutes. Twenty crewmen were lost, and 51 survived. Buck was one of the 51 survivors of the torpedo attack. Because the ship sank so quickly, they were only able to launch two life boats, one of which capsized. 17 of the men held on to the capsized boat while they waited for rescue. Buck was among those that waited in the water. They waited for approximately 12 hours before being rescued by a British cargo vessel. According to an eyewitness account given by one of the surviving officers, “after the ship sank, the submarine surfaced, but it was too dark to determine its nationality. One of the gun crew members said he thought it was a German who spoke to him about the name of the ship and asked a few other questions.” Following his questions, the sub left. It is now known that the submarine responsible for the attack was German boat U188. Following this attack, Buck was assigned to a new ship, and continued his military service for an additional nearly two years. After he was honorably discharged in 1946 he returned to Washington where he began work falling timber before the invention of the power saw. He later moved to Gold Beach where he worked in the woods until an industrial accident left him totally disabled. Buck married Cherie Belle Jackman in Reno, Nevada on February 3, 1947. They continued living in Gold Beach where Buck enjoyed fishing and hunting. Most of all though, Buck enjoyed spending time with his family which included attending the sporting events of his son and daughter and, later, his grandchildren. Survivors include his wife and sweetheart of 69 years, Cherie Curtis, of Gold Beach; son and daughter-in-law, Martin and Paula Curtis of Gold Beach, daughter and son-in-law, Dena and Marvin Morse of Christmas Valley, Ore; brother and sister-in-law, Bruce and Bonnie Curtis of Anchorage, Alaska; grandchildren, Luke Curtis and his wife Samantha, Cherie Blaylock and her husband Garrett, Elizabeth Schaedler and her husband Tadd, Jebb Curtis and his wife, Courtney, and great grandchildren Camden, Faith, Trent, Finley, Jace and Logan. Buck was preceded in death by his son, Timothy Allen Curtis and brothers, Autrice, Sheridan and William Curtis and sister, Penny Spencer. Memorial contributions may be made to Coastal Home Health & Hospice, PO Box 493, Gold Beach, OR 97444. A graveside service and interment were held at Rogue River Cemetery in Gold Beach. Redwood Memorial Chapel is assisting the family. Condolences may be expressed online at www.redwoodmemorial.net, or cards can be mailed to the Curtis family at PO Box 753 Gold Beach, OR 97444.